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Marshall Center’s Partner Language Center Europe concluded hosting the first of two scheduled NATO Benchmark Advisory Test (BAT) Norming Forums July 13. (DOD photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn)

By Keith Wert
Partner Language Center Europe

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (July 20, 2018) – The team at Marshall Center’s Partner Language Center Europe concluded hosting the first of two scheduled NATO Benchmark Advisory Test (BAT) Norming Forums July 13.

This forum was attended by defense-sponsored language testing professionals from 10 NATO and partner countries. 

The purpose of the norming forums is to help ensure that the upcoming participation of 21 nations in the calibration of their national language tests according to NATO Standardized Agreement 6001 is achieved with the same results across the nations. 

National language test results will be compared to the results on a benchmark test developed in cooperation with the Bureau for International Language Coordination (BILC) professional community, the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and PLTCE.

It has been 10 years since the last such effort and a norming forum facilitator, Mary Jo Biase, associate director of the Center for Language Study at Yale University, pointed out that the level of testing sophistication in the nations has evolved to a highly-professional level. 

Another facilitator, Dr. Ray Clifford, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Director of the Center of Language Studies at Brigham Young University, also observed that even though the comparison of national test scores against a benchmark is the desired outcome, it is the process of the norming forums themselves with professional interaction and discussion that is probably the more important endeavor.